Mobile phone masts disguised as trees have been put up in a coastal resort to avoid upsetting the local residents.
One of the masts is adjacent to a campsite at Carcans Plage in Gironde, a seaside hamlet developed next to the beach, while the other is among trees at Maubuisson, a resort on lake Hourtin in the same commune in south west France.
The masts, in the form of pine trees, are designed to be as unobtrusive as possible – many people do not give them a second glance.
Didier Moreau, from the Carcans municipality, told The Connexion: “Our mayor was approached by the operator about putting up a new mast, but having an ordinary metallic one would have upset many people.
“Disguising it as a tree was one option put forward and we went for it.
“The response has been positive in that there has been no response, where metallic masts, especially in a quiet holiday village like Carcans Plage, would have raised opposition.”
The masts are made in China by a specialist manufacturer and were installed in Carcans for the SFR mobile phone network.
Spokesman Stéphane Jourdain said it cost three times more than a traditional mast, both to buy and to install.
Added to that are higher annual maintenance costs, the fact the mast can only be shared by two operators instead of four, and a shortened lifespan.
“We only use them when we have to, but the important thing is to extend our coverage,” he said.
“Many people are now lost when they do not have a mobile phone signal, and putting the mast in Carcans Plage has enabled much better reception than before.”
In other parts of France, masts have been disguised as different varieties of trees, with palm trees being popular in the south.
The government published new guidance for siting mobile phone infrastructure in April, insisting they should be as unobtrusive as possible.
It added that masts should be installed in places where there was already a human impact on the environment, rather than in untouched areas.